Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published April 8th 2012
Getting Away From It All
Stress builds up over time if it's not released at intervals, and there's no better way to relieve stress than to take a few days off and go on a holiday. Some people find that rock climbing or hiking relaxes them like nothing else, while others prefer to just lie on a beach for a couple of days.
Either way, a change of scenery is a good thing – but where to go, when every two-bit holiday town within a hundred kilometres of the coast touts itself as Australia's best retreat? Well, here are three holiday spots near Brisbane that are guaranteed to not be totally awful.
The city Gold Coast is just under a hundred kilometres south of Brisbane, and serves as a major tourist destination for not just Queensland but the whole country. You already knew that, though – from the hysteria surrounding 'schoolies week' to the general sun-and-sand hype, every Australian with a pulse associates Gold Coast with summer holidays. In fact, it's the biggest city in Australia that isn't a state capital. The population tops six hundred thousand and the skyline is more impressive than many actual state capitals (Adelaide, for instance.)
In terms of tourism, Gold Coast is full of theme parks and wildlife sanctuaries – Dreamworld, Sea World, Australian Outback Spectacular and so on – and the Q1 building offers the second-highest observation deck in the whole southern hemisphere, just behind the Eureka Tower in Melbourne. Let's be honest, though, and admit that people go to Gold Coast for the beaches. There are surfing beaches: the famous Snapper Rocks, for instance, home to the Roxy Pro and Quicksilver Pro surfing competitions, Duranbah and the accurately-named Surfer's Paradise. There are beaches that are suited for swimming, like Burleigh Heads. There are family-friendly and party-friendly beaches, like the trendy Main Beach. Whatever your tastes, Gold Coast has the beach for you.
Byron Bay is technically in New South Wales, not Queensland, but it's more than three times closer to Brisbane than it is to Sydney. Known for its idyllic atmosphere and excellent scuba diving opportunities, Byron Bay is one of the few coastal towns that non-Australians can name off the top of their heads. To Americans in particular, it symbolizes their idea of what Australia is like: lazy, beach-loving, easy-going, and blessed with a provincial aversion to civilisation. Of course, Byron Bay isn't quite like that. It's got a thriving musical community, a strong Writers Festival and Film Festival, and a bit of a hippy vibe.
The whole town celebrates alternative lifestyles, with visitors encouraged to leave their cars at the campsite and get around by foot or by bicycle. It's the perfect place to chill out, relax, and get in touch with nature – only don't do it in late November or early December, when the town is flooded with young people just out of high school, drinking to excess, partying, and generally ruining the peaceful atmosphere.
About a hundred and fifty kilometers north of Brisbane, 'Noosa' refers to three major adjoining areas along the Sunshine Coast: Noosa Heads, the resort and main tourist area, Noosaville, the quieter residential area, and Noosa Junction, the business area. From August to November, tourists can head to the Main Beach and Noosa National Park to watch pods of whales make their way up along the Queensland coast to the Antarctic, but Noosa Heads holds many more attractions. Walk along the greenery-covered coastline to a secluded spot or spend some money to go windsurfing on some of Australia's most pristine beaches.
One of the more secluded - and less surf-friendly - Noosa beaches.
The Noosa National Park is a great place to see Australian wildlife, including koalas, and dolphins are often visible frolicking just off the coast. Even in winter, Noosa Heads isn't too cold, and the huge variety of walks and tours available means you won't get bored.
Know an excellent holiday spot near Brisbane – especially somewhere that's quieter than these three places? Let us know in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.